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IN SEASON

Spring Lamb

March 16, 1995|RUSS PARSONS

You wouldn't think rain could have any effect on meat, but it might. California early spring lamb, which is raised primarily in the Imperial Valley, may be a little late this year because of the recent storms.

Normally, these lambs feed on alfalfa fields this time of year. But with most of those fields impossibly muddy, many animals have been forced to scavenge on whatever they can find on higher ground. As a result, they'll have to spend a couple of weeks longer than usual in the feed lot getting fattened up before they're ready for the dinner table.

Early numbers predict a market in terms of size and price about the same as last year. And though the early lamb is showing up just a little later, Easter lamb should be right on time.

Incidentally, spring lamb is actually born in the fall. While at one time the term referred to newborn lamb--the equivalent of milk-fed veal or suckling pig, spring lamb is now born in the fall and is fed over the winter to be ready to slaughter in the spring. This lamb comes from California and Arizona. Lamb that is born in the spring is usually slaughtered in the fall and comes mainly from the Rocky Mountains.

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